The first guest speaker was the founder and leader of the Indepen-dance company, a dance company that works with people with a variety of disabilities and learning support needs. From entering the space I knew almost instantly that this section of the day would be participatory. Now i’m, for the most part, a willing and good participant. I’ve performed live at not one, but two Into the New shows (including a full performance of the final scene from Dirty Dancing, I was Patrick Swayze btw) and i’m usually up for a bit of anything. And the reason i’ve taken part and done these things is because in a room full of strangers I was facilitated to feel safe and supported by the performer or workshop leader. Saturdays session for me, veered into unsafe facilitation. The activity at the end of the session, to dance between the spaces left by bubbles, in a room filled with classically and professionally trained dancers left me feeling humiliated. My other problem with the session was the artistic director Karen Anderson using the word “exclusive” in reference to a group of the dancers within the company. For a company whose tagline has the word “inclusive” in it, it did not feel inclusive. Someone the next day remarked that dancers are always trying to reach the elite. But surely a company like indepen-dance should actually be breaking down these barriers, stop adhering to elitist values. And for the most part i believe that indepen-dance do but if someone was not a good dancer by their standards, can they reach the “exclusive” group? A dance artist like Janice Parker would never put such barriers to people performing, I have seen a performer with complex learning difficulties perform the same move slowly and purposefully during a show. It was beautiful to behold, because the focus, for that moment, was solely on her.
What i did learn from this workshop was the feeling of humiliation and isolation as a learner. Is there any situation where I put my students in such an unsafe learning environment? Do I make them feel what I felt on Saturday? If they do feel trepitdation and anxiety about a task how can I as a teacher help them through that? I need to create a safe learning environment, where the students have the freedom to explore, fail and have the support from the teacher to work on their weaknesses without judgement.
A wonderful, engaging talk with Francis Cummings the head of Sistema Scotland, an organisation that aims to bring Orchestra and music to some of the most deprived areas in Scotland. He presented the benefits and drawbacks from the programme and didn’t shy away on the challenges facing the charity. What struck me, and it was eochoed by Eona Craig’s talk on widening access at the RCS, was the importance of recognising and understanding the barrier a student has to learning and supporting them to realise their potential.
Sistema Scotland, n.d http://makeabignoise.org.uk/sistema-scotland/
First Jamie session
For me the most important session of the day was the last, run by Jamie on the most recent and upcoming submissions. Where we felt we needed more help or clarity. The room divided up into sections and I gravitated towards the critical appraisal section. It was very useful to talk through this essay with other people on the course, even though the online classes are great, the contact time between peers is effected.
A day of ups and downs and by the end my brain resembled mushy peas, but onwards and forwards to day 2….